A Long-Time Acclaimed Resort
Once sleepy fishing villages, Jūrmala (simply meaning “seaside” in Latvian) has become a lovely and lively touristic attraction.
The opening of the railway between Rīga and Jūrmala in 1877 conected the exceptional 33-km stretch of sand to the rest of the Russian Empire, shifting the local economy towards tourism.
Nowadays’ tourists are often confused at Rīga’s train station when they want to buy a ticket to “Jūrmala”, when they realize that it is actually a string of 14 villages with 14 train stations!
The most popular one is Majori, and that’s the one I chose to visit. The trains are recent, clean and efficient. It only takes half an hour of a pleasant (and cheap!) journey through a lot of greenery to reach the Majori train station.
GPS (Majori Station): 56°58’19.22″N, 23°47’43.52″E
Best way to go: Train from Riga (30 mins, 1.40 Euro for Majori)
Duration of visit: A few hours to a whole day at the beach if that’s what you like.
Best season: Every season has its own charm, but Jomas Street is probably more lively at the peak season, June-August.
Official website: visitjurmala.lv
Spending A few Hours in Jūrmala
What can you expect when going to Jūrmala? As for many other places in Latvia, Jūrmala boasts a peaceful yet lively atmosphere. On sunny days and weekends, it looks like a big part of Rīga migrates there to enjoy a day at the beach.
When you get out of the Majori Train Station, you naturally find your way to Jomas Street, the heart of Jūrmala. It’s a charming pedestrian street boasting an interesting architecture with well preserved wooden buildings, some of then quite colorful.
There is a lot of animation with many shops, souvenirs, cafés and restaurants. It’s pretty cool to stroll down that street, shop and enjoy a drink sitting outside in the sun. But let’s not forget why we came here in the first place, the beach!
From Jomas Street, you need to cross a block of beautiful wooden mansions, built in the wonderful setting of a pine tree forest. When I arrived at the beach, I had an immediate impression of vastness, with this endless expanse of golden sand, and the immensity of the Baltic Sea.
There was a lot of people but the beach is so big that it did not feel crowded. I walked a little less than 1 km on the beach from the Baltic Beach Hotel to Dzintari, which is not much but it already felt like a good and nice walk.
I wasn’t here for physical challenge anyway! I often engage in hard trekking or crazy mountain climbing during my trips and for once it felt good to just walk around slowly, enjoying the sun on my face and the sound of the waves.
Sunset watching in Jūrmala has a reputation and the one I saw didn’t disappoint! Pretty colorful, and enjoyable in such a preserved environment. After sunset, chances are that your stomach will start making noises! Back on Jomas Street, you will find restaurants of all kinds and budgets.
Latvia’s best known seaside resort is definitely on the travelers’ radar now. In 2016, they saw a 5% increase in the touristic frequentation, and the trend is not likely to go away. Jūrmala has a lot to offer, whether you want to do some souvenir shopping, have a nice meal outside of Rīga, or have a long walk on the beach and watch the sunset, it’s probably the best palce to do so.
So remember, if you have the chance to visit Rīga, don’t skip the excursion to Jūrmala!